A democracy turns into a dictatorship. It is up to each and every person to decide whether they will go along with it or resist. Though he won’t admit it, the actor Hendrik Höfgen is also faced with this dilemma. Others see what is happening and go into exile. But living the life of a refugee in a foreign country is out of the question for him. He would rather pay the high price of treason and opportunism in return for an illustrious career.
Klaus Mann’s “novel of a career” – written during his exile in Amsterdam in 1936 – is a timeless analysis of a political coward. It is the story of those whose career is more important to them than their conscience. It explores issues of artistic self-fulfilment and personal integrity that are as topical today as they were then.